Right? … Guys? …
Last Thursday Minister of Finance Bill English, aka Mr. Smithers, released the Budget—the Government’s forecast for spending over the next financial year.
There were several different hopes for what the Budget this year might entail—Labour was hoping the Government wouldn’t make surplus like they promised, NZUSA President Rory McCourt was hoping National would stump up for everything from postgraduate allowances to university housing grants and the TEU was just hoping for fewer cuts to polytechs and universities around the country.
How this year’s Budget might affect you
According to English, the Budget “contains $8 million over four years for initiatives to help vulnerable students participate more in education or training, and lifting achievement.”
$32.1m has been assigned for Tertiary Education grants and other funding and $13.9m for tertiary scholarships and awards in 2016. This represents a respective 32.6 per cent and 7.87 per cent increase over 2015.
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However, Government funding for student allowances have dropped from last year’s $539m to $520m.
The Government will introduce a funding boost for beneficiary and low-income families, and student allowance rates for families with children will increase by $25 per week.
Those enrolling in KiwiSaver will no longer receive a kick-start of $1000 from the Government.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has announced more than $97m over the next four years to increase the number of students taking agriculture, optometry, pharmacy and physiotherapy, as well as STEM subject—science, technology, engineering and math.
Government proposes to allow universities to raise domestic fees by 3 per cent annually from next year, as opposed to the usual 4 per cent. Both the TEU and NZUSA have come out against the decision, pointing out that the Government has offered no alternative funding should universities implement the 1 per cent drop, overall leaving universities with less money to work with.
VUWSA President Rick Zwaan claimed the budget “failed to address the $1 billion drop, in real terms, of funding for tertiary education since 2009.”
Average wages are expected to rise by $7000 (to $63,000) by mid-2019.
Tax rates will remain at 10.5 cents per dollar on income up to $14,000 and 17.5 cents per dollar on income between $14,001 and $48,000.
Also, there was no surplus.